| Forgot Password?

Writing Your Own Contract: Pre-Contract Checklist

by Mark Monlux

Here is a list of items that you should discuss with your client before you write up your contract. These questions should be covered in early phone conversations and confirmed with a signature.

Determining the Estimate

(Remember—a bid is locked in, an estimate is not.)


• Time/Rate
• Budgeting

• Meetings
• Research

• Concept Development

• Thumbnails, Roughs

• Comp Preparation

• Type Design
• Type Specifications

• Layout

• Color Selections

• Production Supervision

• Production Coordination 
(proofing output, printer)

• Revisions

• Delivery

• Rush Fee

• Paperwork 
(final bill calculations: invoices; phone time)


• Telephone charges

• Special software or apps

• Storage – discs, thumb drive, memory card, external hard drive, cloud subscription
• Hosting services
• Printouts/Proofs
• Photography
• Scans
• Supplies and Props

• Postage/Freight/Courier

Terms & Payment

• Who is billed?
• Advanced payment –- how much?

• Progressive payments –- how many?

• Payment upon completion, OR

• Payment by invoice (30 days)

• Interest added (or late charge) on past 30 day account

Licensing Rights

• Is the license national, local, or regional?

• Is it for limited or unlimited usage?

• If limited, define re-use rights.

• Always state time and location limits.

• Know your re-use fees in advance
(or include them in your original contract).

• Determine who owns original work.

• Determine a time for return of work not owned by you or your client.

• Be concise about who negotiates rights when subcontracting. Will the client negotiate rights/fees with contractor or subcontractor?

• Are you flexible in negotiating your rights and amendments for re-use rights?


Kill Fee: Some people like to charge a “Kill Fee” (this is usually a percentage of the total estimate) for work that has been cancelled. Another option is to cover yourself by asking for a downpayment before work begins.

Client Approval: Remember to get your client’s signature of approval not only throughout the process, but a final approval before going to press! It’s not a bad idea to state that final signature approval is required in your contract.

This article was originally published in the Graphic Artists Guild column, Dear Mark. www.markmonlux.com

© 2009 All Dear Mark materials are copyrighted by Mark Monlux, and may not be reproduced in any way without expressed written permission.

DISCLAIMER: To the best of my action or belief the material posted on “Dear Mark” discusses general principles of law in response to issues of concern to the illustration community. Nothing posted by Mark Monlux should be construed to be a substitute for advice of counsel regarding the specific facts and circumstances of an individual case.

Laws and their interpretation differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Legal advice addressing a specific situation should be sought from an attorney duly licensed in the appropriate jurisdiction.


Contract Glossary
A contract is an agreement, whether oral or written, whereby two parties bind themselves to certain obligations. Synonyms: agreement or letter of agreement (if the contract takes the form of a letter). This glossary simply explains what the clauses in your contracts mean.

Contracts and Payments: Your Options When You Don’t Have a Signed Contract
by Mark Monlux
Suppose you’ve completed a job for a client, and they refuse to pay you. Worse yet, you never had a written agreement with your client. What options do you have?

Covenant Gardens: Demystifying Noncompetition Agreements
by Philip I. Frankel, Esq.
There is usually confusion about how noncompetition agreements (NCAs) apply to employees or self employed individuals. Traditional NCAs apply only to an employment setting and protect the employer’s interests. Independent contractors are free to contract and negotiate any terms and conditions they want in their own agreements.

The Letter of Agreement
A Letter of Agreement is an abbreviated contract on your studio letterhead, confirming your understanding of the assignment, expected fees and contracted rights for the assignment. Why using a document like this places all parties in agreement about rights and terms before the job begins.

Digital Contracts

Membership is the key to unlocking more than 20 contracts that can be downloaded, edited and customized for use in your business.

Available in Word or Rich Text formats.

View Available Contracts

Member Portfolios

Wines Image
Show your work to potential clients… 
one of the many benefits of membership.

Guild Webinars

Looking to keep up with industry trends and techniques?

Taking your creative career to the next level means you need to be up on a myriad of topics. And as good as your art school education may have been, chances are there are gaps in your education. The Guild’s professional monthly webinar series, Webinar Wednesdays, can help take you to the next level.

Members can join the live webinars for FREE - as part of your benefits of membership! Non-members can join the live webinars for $45. 

Visit our webinar archive page, purchase the webinar of your choice for $35 and watch it any time that works for you.


Join the Guild


Follow Us

  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn